Last month we reviewed RingCentral, an IP based business phone system. This month we are going to compare pricing and features between several voice over IP (VoIP) business phone system providers. There are products that allow you to host your own VoIP phone system, however, this article will only deal with cloud based providers since most small law firms are not interested in running their own systems. Using a phone system can help keep your business communication up to date, you can find out about business phone systems and how they can benefit your business by going onto sites like Gamma and checking out their software.
What is a VoIP business phone system?
VoIP allows you to make and receive telephone calls over the Internet using your broadband Internet connection. All that is required is a VoIP phone and a business phone system provider. Regular telephones use copper lines to connect to the telephone company, a technology that hasn’t changed much since the first phone systems were installed. The difference with VoIP phones is that they connect through the Internet using the same technology that allows you to browse the Internet and read this article.
If your office currently has a phone system there is a good chance it is using a Private Branch Exchange also known as hosted pbx. If not, then you should probably do some research into Hosted Cloud PBX Solutions to learn the fantastic benefits that it has. If you have a phone system in your business though, then it might also be a good idea to use this Interactive Voice Response (ivr), which is the new standard for business phone systems. There are other systems that businesses are using though – the VoIP business phone systems have the same or even greater features than PBX systems have except the hardware that controls the actual functions can be hosted in the cloud by the service provider. The main benefits of this type of system are that you don’t have to maintain the equipment and you don’t need to buy new equipment to make upgrades.
VoIP Business Phone Providers
You can Google “VoIP business phone providers” to find all possible providers, however, I have listed what are considered to be some of the main players in this space: RingCentral, Jive, 8×8, Nextiva, and Vonage Business/Vocalocity. Please leave comments if you have any feedback for these or any other providers I did not list.
To determine costs and features I used the provider’s website and made telephone inquiries to confirm. For our hypothetical small law firm installation I went with five separate phones in one location and each provider’s lowest cost plan. For our firm the requirements were a local number, toll free number and fax number. All providers offered the same basic and advanced features. The number of advanced features that each provider offers is extensive and all of these providers will most likely have every feature your law firm may need.
As you can see by the chart above, all of the providers offer the same basic features and the pricing is competitive. Each provider had a sales pitch on how their support was better, how their network was better, how there system was better, etc. Since it wasn’t practical to actually test each provider’s system, before you make a choice make sure you call and talk to them. Some were easy to talk to, others wouldn’t talk to me unless I gave my name, phone number, business name, and email. I encountered everything from a soft sale to a hard sale, and you can get a good picture of the company from talking to sales and support. With pricing and features very competitive across the board it will come down to any advanced feature you may need and the company you feel you will mesh with the best.
One additional item you will need is an IP phone since regular phones will not work with these systems. IP phones are available from $100 each, and most providers will lease you phones for a small monthly fee. Some providers run specials and you may be able to get a basic IP phone if you sign a service contract.
A cloud hosted VoIP business phone systems is a perfect choice for the small to mid-sized law firm that needs all of the features of a typical PBX and doesn’t want the cost or hassle of traditional phone equipment.